So your military career has ended and you are wondering how you will adjust to working in the private sector. Let’s face it – working in the military versus working in corporate America is completely opposite. While I was never Active Duty, I worked for Marine Corps Community Services for five years in Okinawa, Japan and aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. One of the most important aspects I learned while working with the military is that there is an order or directive for everything. My transition into the private sector was not easy because I was always searching for some type of written procedure for every task, and there wasn’t one. My sarcasm was not appreciated by my coworkers like it was by the Marines I encountered on a daily basis. One of the hardest adjustments was having to remember people’s names as it was not embroidered on their shirt. I wanted to run back to my comfort zone which was working with the military, but my new location did not have many opportunities that allowed that honor. I adjusted and I know that even through your transition will be more difficult than mine, you will adjust too.
One way that I was able to adjust to my new career path is incorporate some of the principles I learned while working with the military. Since I could not find directives or orders, I created them myself. This not only benefited myself but also others who were newly employed or who needed a refresher. While you cannot teach someone to have a good sense of humor, I was also able to use my sarcasm to benefit the company I worked with. When it came time to honor employees for their contributions, my boss wanted me to make the PowerPoint slides entertaining so people were not bored. I credit my time with the military to my good sense of humor. Remember you bring a special skill to the workforce that others do not possess. Do not be afraid to be different and use your training and skills to your advantage.
Before giving up on finding that perfect job opportunity in the civilian world, do some research and see if prospective employers have military friendly job search tools. Also, do not be afraid to identify yourself as a Veteran when applying. Many employers are ecstatic to hire Veterans. Several companies have tailored sections of their career pages to transitioning military members enabling the opportunity to search for civilian careers by a compatible military job title or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). For example, it’s highly unlikely that a recruiter or hiring manager will know a job you could pursue if you were a T251 – Air Transportation Journeyman. With a military title job search tool, you would discover that job title could translate into skills needed for positions such as Outbound Warehouse Supervisor, Delivery Driver or a Slotting Coordinator. Some companies even have a document on their website called a Vet Skill Translator that lists different branches’ military occupational codes with compatible jobs within their organization. It’s very probable you’ll be working next to a Veteran if employed by one of these military friendly employers.
Thank you for your service and good luck on your transition.